Muskoka To-DAILY

MCA presents super heroes of Canadian classical world in Saturday night return to OP

Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — The trumpet and bassoon may seem an odd pairing for a concert.

But don’t let that — or their equivalent fashion sense — be off-putting, as Juno nominees Guy Few and Nadina Mackie Jackson storm the Opera House Saturday night.

It’s a concert high wire act that has Barnum Bailey at one end of a tight rope and Cirque du Soleil at the other — with no safety net beneath the proscenium arch. They are of one mind when it comes to their classical and modern playing, thinking and performing.

Nadina Mackie Jackson and Guy Few are the super heroes of classical music. They perform Saturday night at the Gravenhurst Opera House as part of the Muskoka Concert Association's 70th season.

Nadina Mackie Jackson and Guy Few are the super heroes of classical music. They perform Saturday night at the Gravenhurst Opera House as part of the Muskoka Concert Association’s 70th season.

The Muskoka Concert Association resumes its 70th season April 8, at 7:30 p.m. with “Canada’s best bassoonist,” and a trumpeter few in the country compare to.

Both are back at the MCA by popular demand — him twice, her once.

In a talented world, where it’s hard to be seen — let alone heard — marvel at the music of this dynamic duo who look to have stepped out of pantomime panels of Batman and Catwoman comic books.

Such is the shame of a shallow culture that forces such forces of art.

The concert portion of the evening opens upstairs in th auditorium with Marloes Streppel, a Huntsville youth, playing the violin.

Post-show refreshments, provided by RELISH, will be served in the Trillium Court, where there will be an opportunity to chat and meet the artists.

Tickets are $30. Call the box office 705 687-5550 or go online to buy at

Mackie Jackson, 58, says the bassoon “can be played in any type of group…. It.s not common because of technical difficulty to play, fragility of the many keys and the necessity of reeds. But if I can master all those things and add amplification, you can play anywhere.”

Few, too, is a popular choice to return. He’s been a regular performer at the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound for years, performing with dirctor James Campbell.

He not only plays trumpet, but the piano — and both at the same time, which he plans for at least one piece Saturday night.

He will also play the corno — “the little horn.”

Which is partly why Mackie Jackson enjoys so playing with him.

He calls her “spectacular.”

She says it’s not just that he plays the trumpet, but how he plays it.

She can relate to him musically and on a personal level, such that they feel at one with ease in their playing, understanding as they do how to weave lyrical lines that mesh measure by measure.

Both enjoy sharing the stage, they admit. He says he’s been a performer since age seven and feels “more at home there than at home.”

She, on the other hand, was later to music and performing. She only took up the bassoon in high school, but took off and by age 22 had a tenured position with the Montreal Symphony, the first bassoonist to ever achieve that with the orchestra.

And while Few’s musical tastes run the gamut, she says she prefers to listen to little music that may influence her playing.

Yet she does have ears for other musicians – especially Vivaldi, who wrote 39 concertos for the bassoon – the most by any composer.

As for her favourite piece — there “can never be a single” one.

“How about: ‘Firebird and Rite of Spring,’ by Igor Stravinsky; ‘Beethoven Symphony #9 and Piano Concerto #3’; Vivaldi Bassoon Concerti’ (played by me, or Italian bassoonists Paulo Carlini or Sergio Azzolini); Weber’s opera ‘Der Freischütz’; Mozart operas the ‘Magic Flute’ and ‘Marriage of Figaro.’”

Her favourite bassoonists?  Sergio Azzolini, Maurice Allard.

Her favourite CD? “It’s hard!!!!!

“I listen to something a lot then never again.”

She’s looking forward on th program to playing “Jazz variations,” a piece by Canadian Libby Larsen.

Few, 54, who grew up in Saskatchewan, is a teacher at Laurier University in Waterloo, where he has a studio and coaches students and bases his playing.

He likes his playing partner because they’re both storytellers.

He says they have “artistic agreement” and are “super excited” to be playing the Opera House again with their “Blown Away” program.

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